The Hon. Warren Truss, MP
The Hon. Warren Truss, MP
FORMER MINISTER FOR TRADE

Fourth Australia-South Africa Joint Ministerial Commission Joint Communique

Canberra, 18 October 2006

The Australian Minister for Trade, the Hon Warren Truss MP, and the South African Minister of Trade and Industry, the Hon Mandisi Mpahlwa MP, met on 18 October 2006 in Canberra to co-chair the fourth meeting of the Australia-South Africa Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC).

Established in 1997 and chaired by Trade Ministers, the JMC is the peak forum for the discussion and strengthening of the trade and economic relationship between South Africa and Australia.

Ministers welcomed the opportunity to exchange views and to consider ways of promoting bilateral trade, investment and sectoral cooperation. They particularly welcomed the participation in the meeting of business delegations from both Australia and South Africa.

Ministers discussed WTO issues, including the recent 20th Anniversary Cairns Group Ministerial Meeting. They called for the EU and the United States to show leadership in the Doha Round negotiations to break the current deadlock and resume negotiations as soon as possible. Ministers recognised that to attract consensus the package must deliver real improvements in economic opportunities for all WTO members, particularly developing and least developed countries.

Ministers welcomed the close cooperation between Australia, as the 2006 chair of the Group of Twenty (G-20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, and South Africa, as the in-coming chair.

Mr Truss and Mr Mpahlwa noted that bilateral trade had grownby an average of ten per cent per annum over the past five years. In 2005 two-way merchandise trade was valued at A$3.4 billion (R17.1 billion). In particular, Ministers noted with approval the growing two-way trade in passenger motor vehicles. The strong growth in the bilateral economic relationship reflected the opportunities created by robust economic growth and the open trading environments in both countries. Ministers reviewed market access issues and committed themselves to facilitating the resolution of these issues as they may arise.

Mr Mpahlwa reported to the JMC on South Africa’s review of its Motor Industry Development Program. Mr Truss welcomed the ongoing progress by South Africa in implementing the understandings reached in bilateral discussions dating back to 2004.

Ministers also noted further areas for economic cooperation. They welcomed, in particular, the signing during the JMC of an Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation by the Australian Minister for Education, Science and Technology, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, and the South African Minister for Science and Technology, the Hon Mosibudi Mangena MP. Ministers noted that this Agreement will provide opportunities for reciprocal technical visits on science and technology issues while enhancing existing collaboration between Australian and South African institutions.

Ministers welcomed negotiations for a Film and Television Co-Production Agreement between South Africa and Australia announced by the Australian Minister for the Arts and Sport, Senator the Hon Rod Kemp, and the South African Deputy President, the Hon Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. In addition to the development of a Film and Television Co-Production Agreement, South Africa suggested broadening the scope of creative industries co-operation.

Ministers noted the particular relevance education and training issues have for South Africa as it pursues skills initiatives under the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA). Ministers noted the importance of strengthening links between Australian and South African Universities. Ministers further noted that Monash University has a campus in South Africa.

Ministers also noted that the 2010 World Cup, to be hosted by South Africa, and ASGISA, will create substantial economic and development opportunities. They encouraged businesses from the two countries to explore the potential for exchanges of technology and expertise. Australia highlighted the depth of its experience in the successful delivery of international sporting events and offered its expertise in this regard.

Ministers welcomed the increased cooperation between the respective red meat industry groups of both countries. Ministers acknowledged that strong bilateral industry cooperation had made important contributions to expanding the red meat market in South Africa, particularly the sheepmeat sector. Recognising the importance of the emerging livestock producers and opportunities for growth in South Africa, Ministers encouraged continued collaboration between stakeholders, including improving market conditions for the red meat sector. Minister Mpahlwa encouraged importers of Australian sheepmeat to apply to South Africa’s International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) for a review of tariffs on response to Australian requests in this regard. Australia welcomed the opportunity to work closely with South Africa to address concerns with the red meat trade.

Ministers noted the level of cooperation in the field of mining. Australia raised concerns around the speed of processing applications, in response to which South Africa explained that the new mining legal framework created an unprecedented increase in the number of applicants resulting in a backlog. However, this problem was being addressed.

Ministers also appreciated the opportunity provided by the JMC for a discussion between Australian and South African officials to clarify South Africa’s procedures for the issue of inter-company work permits. Australia welcomed indications that processes are underway towards extending the current timeframe of inter-company work permits from a two year validity period to four years. South Africa indicated its interest in reciprocal treatment in respect of short stay visas which are not required of Australian passport holders entering South Africa.

Ministers noted that since the last JMC was held in 2000, Australia and South Africa have consolidated their relationship through the establishment of Senior Officials’ Talks, the third round of which was held on 16 October 2006. These Talks provide an opportunity for Australia and South Africa to exchange views on a range of international issues.

Ministers received reports of the four industry working groups which met during the day – Mining, Services, Agribusiness and Manufacturing. The key issues identified by industry for further consideration were:

Agriculture

Mining

Manufacturing

Services

Ministers resolved that the next meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission would be held in South Africa on a date to be agreed.

The Hon Warren Truss MP
Minister for Trade

The Hon Mandisi Mpahlwa MP
Minister of Trade and Industry

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